chapter  7
24 Pages

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) spans a string of islands between 2 degrees and 12 degrees latitude south of the equator. The main body of land is the eastern tail of the large island of New Guinea, which in the west shares a border with Irian Jaya, a province of Indonesia. The waves of original migrants came between 15,000 and 50,000 years ago (Dorney, 1991). They settled on the islands, along the coast and river banks and high in the valleys of the mountain ranges separated from one another by the terrain. There are more than 800 languages spoken (Tetaga, 1991). Today the population is over 4 million and increasing rapidly (Tait, 1994). The people differ in appearance from area to area and have diverse agricultural methods, music, dances, and traditional beliefs that they determinedly retain and happily share. A Melanesian value in common is devotion to family duties and to a village "line". Many Papua New Guineans cope with obligations in two cultures-in the village where there is land and the extended family and in a "modem" life in the town.